Guilt Trip: My Story of Coming Home, and the the Not-So-Subtle Stigma of Solo Female Travel

The Atlanta Airport felt striking and cool, the first real air conditioning I’d felt in months. It had that hospital sort of cleanliness, the sort of sterile you’re grateful for if trying to avoid germs, but resentful of if on no sleep and in search of a decent meal and a hot shower. I stepped through the gate into the fluorescently lit, Starbucks scented terminal, and became immediately aware of my appearance. I looked and probably smelled like a foot, hair matted, skin leathery-tan. My clothes and duffle bag were marked by dust and dirt, and my sandals were hanging on by a thread (three, to be exact). Not mentally prepared to return home to the states, (financial limitations dictated the end of my travels), resentment washed over me as I followed the herd of haggard travelers towards the always-ominous line to Customs. 

You know that gut feeling you get when you’re a teenager and about to get in trouble? Like when you get pulled over for speeding and you just know you’re not getting out of the ticket? Or trying to use a fake ID as a teenager, and you just sense that the doorman isn’t going to buy it? That’s how I felt as I approached the always-intimidating Border Control desks and the stern looking Customs Officer at the end of my line. I watched him as he curtly interrupted travelers mid-sentence. I almost admired his staunch commitment to frowning. I wondered if he was a sociopath, if that was the only explanation as to how you would not return a smile to a friendly human. As I studied his actions, I inferred that I - a then 25 year old woman, clearly not your most conservative looking gal, and clearly traveling alone - would have little in common with this white, southern, 70-something-year-old Border Patrol Officer. I carried with me a yoga mat and a scent of youthful idealism (a blend of palo santo and body odor). He carried a clipboard with a white-knuckle grip, a subtle air of pretentiousness, and a not-so-subtle pride for his position of power. 

The line moseyed along as I smoothed out my hair, as though that would help me appear as though I held some of the same values as this Border Patrol Officer - things like pensions and using the term “riff raff” and taking regular showers (indoors, with soap!) As I approached the front of the line, I smiled sweetly, but not too much. I was called up and the officer asked where I was coming from. Nervous but not sure why, I responded sort of shakily.

“Guiones, the North West coast of Costa Rica, for about a month. Then I travelled around for a few weeks. ”

Shit, I thought. Already giving away too much. He definitely knows I don’t shower inside.

“By yourself?” He responded, with a dramatic, bobble head sort of side nod and more eyebrow sass than I knew older white men were capable of. By being honest about my, you know, free will to travel, I knew I’d blown it. 

I’m not sure why I didn’t say what I was actually in Costa Rica to do, which was to complete a yoga teacher training. I’m not sure why I didn’t describe my trip as the responsible, education and career goal oriented venture that it was intended to be. Instead I told him what it truly ended up being, not just a business venture, but a professional, spiritual, emotional, self discovery-filled venture. Cringe-worthily cheesy but true, this was my “Eat Pray Love,” a somewhat impulse driven, yet intuitively goal oriented, transformational quarter life soul search. It was both a destructive shattering of my steady, routine filled life, in trade for one of passion and necessary newness.

This didn’t go over well with Officer Eyebrows. The brow continued to furrow with steadfast vengeance. I could feel his judgment, (hatred, maybe?) for what and who he thought I was. Then the question came; the gut wrenching gem of this whole interaction:

“Your father let you travel to South America alone?” He asked, Southern drawl and all, reiterating his lack of approval and confirming my fear that this was not going to go well. I decided against correcting him that Costa Rica is actually in Central (not South) America. Weighing the pros and cons of the situation, I figured I’d let him have this one.

Ironically enough, the least free I had felt in months was in this very moment, the moment I returned home. I’d come from a poverty-stricken, third world country to the overly abundant, “land of the free,” my place of birth and citizenship, where I was, at least by Officer Eyebrow’s standards, not allowed to travel as an adult without my father’s permission. My home country was frigidly air conditioned, unnaturally lit, and alarmingly unwelcoming. 

My head swirled with typical reactions to this micro aggression. My inner voice screamed silently, with more sass than even Officer Eyebrow’s eyebrows, things like “MY DAD DOESN’T OWN ME! WHAT DOES ANY ONE ELSE HAVE TO DO WITH MY WILL TO TRAVEL?! I CAN TRAVEL! SEXISM! OPPRESSION! WHITE FEMINISM! I’M AWARE OF MY PRIVILEGE TO TRAVEL! THIS IS GETTING CONFUSING! PRIVILEGE AND POWER! POWER AND CONTROL! THIS IS COMPLICATED BECAUSE I'M WHITE! … Fuck, I’m probably going to be detained and miss my connector ..…  SEXISM!!!!!!!” …..Etc, etc, the rabbit hole ensued.

But instead of speaking with my inner voice, I tried to play the game. I attempted to tell him what I assumed he’d want to hear, which was something between parasol-twirling passivity and a blissful receptivity to his mansplaining. I decided though, that I’m a white woman of privilege and lucky to travel at all, even with this hiccup at Borders. I can afford to deal with this microaggression. I mumbled some combination of a nervous giggle and an “oh, you know, let’s-brush-this-off-and-move-on” sort of declamation. 

As I expected, he looked down and shook his head (just at me and my whole existence, I’m assuming), marked something on my boarding pass, and the Officer behind his desk promptly directed me to a separate, private room. There I was instructed to sit and wait, in this “No Exit”-esque white walled room.

I felt guilty even though I’d done nothing wrong. I felt a bit scared, even though I was supposed to be home, safe. I felt awkwardly aware of the fact that I was white, and that this would maybe, or likely, be a different experience if I were a person of color. I wondered about that feeling, was it guilt? Gratitude? In the “Land of the Free,” I felt wildly unwelcome, and more than anything, sort of sad to be home.

As I sat in this large and empty room, alone save for a row of folding chairs and the two officers behind the desk twenty feet in front of me, I thought back to my life before this trip. A few short months prior, I was working a full time job in the nonprofit sector, living with a nice boyfriend who treated me well, in a cute little Boston apartment, bored, but content enough with my routine and stability. It appeared as though I had what everyone wanted, checking all the boxes on the college-job-marriage-kids American Dream life plan. 

The truth was, though, something had been nagging in me to get out of all of it. My whole life I had always done everything right, for the most part, often blindly following directions and allowing everyone else to take up space in the room before I did. I was always a decent student, went to a good college, got internships that turned into jobs, friends that turned into family, boyfriends that turned into partners with plans. I stayed put. I was nice to people. I worked hard. I was exhausted always, which our culture treats as a sign of success. But I knew something was missing, and my gut wouldn’t let me forget it.

Unsure of what that gut feeling was, I did know that I loved meditation, and always have. After college I got deeper and deeper into practicing yoga. I loved what the poses, and especially the breathing, did for my mental health. I loved how it made me feel like myself, especially when I didn’t necessarily feel that in other parts of my life. I loved the metaphors in the poses, how they symbolized real life situations off the yoga mat, and how the sequences told stories. I loved how yoga created a visual representation of my brain and habits. I loved how it made me calmer, more focused, and more aware of things in every part of my life. I wanted to explore that, and grow and share and teach it and keep learning from it. I wanted to feel always how I felt when I was in that yoga, compassion and clarity-filled headspace. 

So I chose Costa Rica because of the world-renowned yoga teacher training in Nosara, but maybe I also chose Costa Rica because it was far away. Maybe I was simply running away, from boredom or monotony or lack of spiritual fulfillment. I do know that I was following my gut instead of societal rules, and what I found down there was important. It was real life, and it was not the privileged fantasy many of my peers and acquaintances judged it to be. 

When I told people about my plans to quit my job and go to Costa Rica, the reactions I received were varying. Most at least pretended to be supportive, but many seemed to give backhanded compliments, insinuating that I was privileged, spoiled, or reckless, despite my “bravery” and “admirable courage” for “following my heart.” 

Some were either encouraging or resentful, I couldn’t often tell which:

“Wow, how brave of you for following your dreams so impulsively!”

“I wish I could travel to exotic paradises!”

“Wow! Not many people can just up and leave like that…”

“Do it now, before you have kids and all your hopes and dreams die!” 

“You’re such a free spirit!”

That term, that awful, awful “free spirit” term, always felt to me patronizing and problematic. It seems to imply that one who is “free spirited” is privileged to have access to this rare form of magic, aka, freedom to move about the world, I suppose. And yes, some are privileged to many freedoms which others are not, and yes, I’m aware of my abundant privileges. There’s that confusing guilt, again.

Still, every time I hear the phrase “free spirit,” I think of how Western culture fosters and forces the box-checking life path, and frowns upon free will, risk taking, and any sort of critical thinking, deeming it "radical." The free spirit is frowned upon. At its worst, it’s quarantined - such as in spaces like this customs detainment room. At its best, it's unfairly judged and condescendingly labelled.

Sitting here, waiting to see which generalized archetype these Officers would brand me with, I thought about how I, and so many others, travelled cheaply despite what people thought. I found the lowest rates for hostels and camping options. I took public transit. I chose tuna and cornmeal and cheap beer over eating out. I hustled for bodywork clients and taught yoga to vacationers for extra cash. I wondered why people thought traveling like this was reserved for the rich. I wondered why mobility and following my instincts made me “brave” and “admirable” and at the same time so, so isolated. I wondered why this was rare, as a citizen of a country that boasts the pursuit of happiness as a natural born right.

The more I thought about my travels, the more cage-like this room felt. My sense of guilt and anxiety, whether truly warranted or not, increased rapidly. Just because authority was treating me like I’d done something wrong, my reaction was that maybe I did. I began worrying that drugs had somehow made their way into my baggage. The two officers continued to sit in looming silence. I waited, accepting that they were in charge of judging whether my passion and work were worth exorcising my will to travel. Silently, (because using my voice had not served me well at Customs), I asked so many questions.

When I was eventually called to approach the desk, I was prepared to play the game once again. I stood up straight but not too straight, made eye contact but not too much, and assumed the role of the the sweet woman (girl?) I figured they wanted me to be. I tried to pull off that tricky balance of humility and professionalism, a balance many women are familiar with perfecting. I answered their questions simply but fully. I told them about my education and business oriented, well planned, and highly organized venture teaching and traveling in Costa Rica. The interaction went smoothly, and I did make my connector flight to Boston. I did get to return home to my family. I did get to travel and cross borders and move about and luckily, I was familiar with microaggressions and was prepared to navigate them with the resources my mom and aunt and sister and cousins had taught me, the same ones taught to them by their mothers and aunts and etc, etc.

And now, I get to write and reflect and share and listen. I get to use my voice, choose my path (whether less traveled or not), and I get to keep going, despite some road bumps, a few backhanded compliments, and the most sass I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing. Still, I get to keep trekking - one torn sandal in front of the other.



Stories Yoga Tells: Movement as Metaphor

Yoga is a natural at story telling. Partially because of my love for writing, the metaphors behind the poses are what drive me to keep practicing. Every time I do yoga, a storyline unfolds, both informative of, and formative to, my life off the mat. Yoga feels like a visceral representation of life in that moment - a visual guide of the my body’s reactions to the external environment.

The breath certainly reflects the mind, which yoga helps us to become aware of. If thoughts are busy or chaotic, often the breath is shorter and jagged. If the mind is still and peaceful, the breath is fluid and whole. Similarly, if my life is going through a rough patch, that will manifest in my practice: tears hit like a truck in pigeon, I may wobble and fall out of balance poses that usually come easily, I may feel weak and shake in boat pose. Stress manifests via lower back pain. Anger manifests via raised body temperature. Stagnancy manifests via fidgety restlessness. Lately, as I’m working through some fascinating (albeit new and wildly uncomfortable) symptoms of trauma, I don't practice with my back to the room’s exits or to other people. I no longer close my eyes in Shavasana. Feeling safe is something I consciously think more about, and vulnerability seems to come with a whole new set of dangers.

In an effort to re-learn that it is safe to open up to people - and to de-stigmatize this under discussed topic - I’m being fairly candid with peers that I’m going through a strange and complicated grieving process. I’m healing from various layers of relationship abuse, working on how to hold myself accountable for my own unhealthy behaviors and habits, and committed to re-wiring my brain to both give and receive the love all beings deserve.

My yoga practice grows just as I do, and my relationship to the practice is evolving too. I no longer view yoga as an answer or a cure, but rather as one of my many tools for healing and one of my many outlets for creativity. I’m aware of my privilege to have access to so many resources. Many people in my situation have few or none. Yoga is an unbiased mirror, (I am still, after about a decade of practice, terrified of going upside down - just as I’m afraid of vulnerability, lack of control, and rejection in my life off the mat). But, despite its brutal honesty, yoga is also a friend who supports your breath and mobility. Yoga is a space to move how the breath and body need to move - it teaches how to clear space, shed layers, how to be in my power. While practicing yoga I can choose when to be open, when to be closed, when to expand and grow in tree pose, or when to contract and be held by the ground in child’s pose. Yoga wants you to love your bodies. It shows you that that’s an option. It shows you how to hear your body’s signals - and then listen and respond to them accordingly - without fear or judgement. Then, in turn, you learn how to listen to others with the same kind of love.

The fact is that we are all writers. Yoga instructors, in particular, have this interesting responsibility to not create the story for the class, but to allow the class’s story to tell itself - this is what we’d call “holding space.” I do not believe in a teacher or a healer filling someone else’s cup with knowledge, but rather I’m of the Socratic Method of Teaching school of thought - I believe we are all healers, all our own teachers, and we are all capable of cultivating our own education, our own peace, our own medicine. We write our own stories. The yoga mat is just the blank page.



Instagram Anxiety and the Yoga Aesthetic

The other day I posted a vain and silly Instagram post of myself in a yoga handstand, which is a pose I've been working VERY hard to achieve away from the wall. The alignment could have been better, (I’m still working on core engagement and knitting my ribs in), but I still felt proud of my progress and wanted to share. So I posted it, along with a plug for my weekly class schedule and some hashtags like “#bodypositive” and “#yogaforall.”

I took it down, minutes later, for a variety of reasons: mostly because I found myself slightly fiending off the dopamine-releasing “likes,” and also because I assumed some of these “likes” were more in favor of my booty than my body, (or the main point of self love, which I was attempting to express in the post). This self love and body positive image is something I’ve worked very hard to develop, and I think that’s important for women to talk about - especially those in an industry with complications around body image, which we need to stop pretending the yoga industry does not.

Essentially, when I go to post a picture of myself in a yoga pose, I have two very different inner voices. One of them is admittedly self indulgent, but truly well intentioned: a smart and confident business woman, proud of my strength and progress (growing up I could never touch my toes in those gym class aptitude tests) and hopeful that the post will inspire others to love their own bodies and unique strengths.

The other voice is self doubting and apprehensive, unable to shake the obviously narcissistic exploitation of an *ancient* spiritual craft to satisfy a *young* online trend - one that is very ego-driven, and one that reflects conflicting ideals from basic yogic principals.

Let’s be fair. There are some (many) people who would have seen this post and have an intrinsically positive response — either out of support for me as a friend or fellow wellness industry worker, or out of confidence in their own body and self care practices. People who post things like this do so for SO many reasons - this is important to stress. Certainly these posts are NOT all out of vanity. We women work hard to love our bodies in a culture that teaches us young to reject them. I’m all for sharing, exposing, and doing whatever the hell feels good and healthy.

But more so, I’m all for critical thinking. In the grand scheme of things, social media is new. It's important to pause and think about what it's doing to our brains as we mindlessly scroll, absorbing far more sensory input than we are, as animals, wired to receive. But my point here is that these posts - the poster and the viewer - may very well be in good fun and healthy intentions.

On the flip side, there are some (many) whose reaction will have a viscerally negative response: A cocktail of insecurity and resentment, maybe. They may see the post and immediately feel bad about themselves, their lifestyle, their bodies. They may perceive yogis to be vain and egotistical. They may judge or feel judged. I do this sometimes, when I see pictures of thin and flexible, usually white, bodies in the desert or under waterfalls, young, conventionally attractive women in an effortless, bikini-clad Mermaid Pose. The thought of exposing one’s body this way is terrifying to many who see that post, for a smorgasbord of reasons. Social media is disorienting in a unique way to each user, I’m sure. 

But the worst case scenario, and ultimately the reason why I took my handstand post down, was that the picture may be triggering. It may bring up difficulties for the viewer that I just do not need to bring up in order to promote my classes for the week. It may be harmful and dangerous and counterproductive, despite my hashtag urging the viewer to “#loveyourbody.” 

Something else to regard here is that Instagram is a platform for artistic expression - and some of these photos are from a place of ONLY artistic expression, purely for visual stimulation or surface level imagery, and this is separate from my point. A lot of these skinny-yoga-mermaid-lady pictures have more to do with creativity than alignment, as the photographer is probably more an artist than a yoga instructor. But shouldn’t artistic expression hold space for social responsibility, if it chooses to dip its toes in a health and wellness industry that works to hold space for ego-free inclusivity, and already so often fails at doing so?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!


You cannot write a new chapter if you keep re-reading the old one

Happy New Year yogis!

So, I was never big on the whole Setting-New-Year’s-Resolutions thing. It always felt contrived and gimmick-y, as though we had one pressure-filled day to magically become the best versions of ourselves. That’s not reasonable, and that’s not how I operate as a human, yoga student, or teacher. Learning and growing are anything but linear. They will not happen overnight, and certainly not because society tells us they should.

What I am big on, however, is self-acceptance, exploring outside of comfort zones, making mistakes, and learning from them in order to navigate, with love, our lives and relationships. I believe we - ALL of us - are innately equipped to create whatever life we want, whenever we want, simply by freeing ourselves of old habits of thinking.

We write stories every day, complete with a lineup of characters telling us how to react to every situation. Your kids catch a cold, the Mother in you tells you you failed, to rush them to the doctor and nurture them back to health. You bomb a presentation or flunk an exam, the Judgmental jerk in you will rear its ugly, doubting head. Your car shits the bed and costs you tons of money, the Self-Doubter will remind you of how financially limited you are. Life is sometimes a smorgasbord of shit, and we have a cast of characters in our heads making up stories about each and every situation. And that’s ok, that means we’re human…but it’s nice to remember that we are the writers, not the characters. We can replace those voices with ones that better serve our true soul’s purpose…better yet, we can take a minute to breathe, meditate, and tune out the crazies all together. :)

Stressful stuff happens, but you are not the stress. You are not your frustration, your anger, or your sadness. You are not your emotions, you are not your thoughts, and you are most certainly not that crazy person in your head doubting your every move, instilling fear, and shattering your self confidence.

You are love. And you don’t need to set a resolution for 2017 to remind yourself of this simple and deep-seated fact. You are also the writer, so write! And re-write, and re-write, and re-write…every minute of every day, for 2017 and beyond.

Happy manifesting, and a very happy New Year!


*This blog post is from my January newsletter. If you want more, be sure to sign up at the home page! No spam and good vibes only, guaranteed.


Two to four times a year, a snake sheds its top layer of skin. This process is called ecdysis, which means "the act of molting or shedding an outer cuticular layer." Ecdysis is the sloughing off of the outer layer, in order to remove stale cells and parasites, free up mobility, and so enable growth. Apparently, just after a snake sheds a layer, they’re visibly healthier and vibrant. Their new body, free of restrictions, allows them to move and expand how they should. 

When snakes are young, they shed more often - every two weeks or so. Perhaps this is simply because they grow at a faster rate than adults, or maybe it's because they are so often something's prey, and so must be in constant adaptation. Like a child learning from touching a hot stove, a baby snake is trusting not instead of vulnerability, but despite vulnerability. The baby snake moves with a genuine curiosity. It explores without inhibition, and adapts to circumstance, to whatever danger comes and goes. When they outgrow their layer, like a toddler outgrowing a too-small race car bed, they simply shed and continue on. They shake off their skin and their trauma and they slither on. They survive.

So, snakes and seasons live in cycles, encountering obstacles and adapting accordingly. Each peak and valley seem higher and higher, easier each time to trek. Rainfall feels heavier to a small body, parasites attach quicker to young blood. Baby snakes bear the weight of the weather and predators, grow tougher skin, then slough it off when it becomes too heavy and tight. When they become trapped in their outer shells, they don't wait for the environment to change - they change their bodies, and continue on. The old skin gives itself to the earth, waiting somewhere in nature, fertile to become something else's material for something else’s purpose. 

In the first grade, our class pet was a Ball Python. I remember noticing the snake's abandoned skin collect in the tank over time, and he would move about, shining in his new, rejuvenated body with ease and freedom. I remember feeling jealous of this ability. How badly I would have loved to leave my parasite-ridden, restricting physical body. How beautifully instinctual it was to shed a layer when it was no longer needed, to uncover and expose the purer, healthier, cleaner self.

Childhood health problems made me anxious in my skin, malnourished and reactive to culturally "normal" foods my classmates could eat freely. I had an intestinal bacterial overgrowth which caused physical tension and emotional instability, muscle tics, anxiety and mood swings and symptoms such as the one now often diagnosed as “restless leg syndrome,” (because our culture likes to confuse symptoms for the causes, but I digress).

Thanks to my incredible and critically thinking parents, as well as a team of nutritionists, biochemists, and physicians, we figured out that my symptoms were due to Candida. Nowadays, Candida is a common term among yoga teachers and the holistic wellness community. In the nineties, however, we were complete weirdos, with a lack of resources to boot. I remember my mom ordering a special kind of bread made from millet from a bakery in Florida, because there was nowhere closer to find gluten-free bread. 

The discipline this taught me as a child could result in a whole separate essay, although now I have the good fortune of living a relatively healthy and "normal" adult life with a strong ability to communicate with my body. I also am privileged to have a sensitive and direct relationship with food. 

Sometimes the swells of tension come back, though, mostly when I indulge in toxins, which unfortunately include sugar, dairy, processed wheat, alcohol, and other foods commonly found in our society. Sometimes I recall my childhood inability to relax physically or mentally, and a chaotic wave of pins and needles washes over my midsection and skull. Sometimes, even now as an adult, I want to shed like a snake and leave the old shell behind. Sometimes, I catch myself resenting the skin I’ve often felt so stuck in.

In addition to dietary changes and a cocktail of vitamins and herbal supplements which cured (and still keep) Candida at bay, I’ve tried many methods to slough off this experience: Holistic chiropractors, acupressure, Reiki, massage therapy, cognitive therapy and family counseling, aromatherapy, the list goes on. If it reads "personal development" or "holistic body work," I've probably explored it (or become licensed in it). One thing I was hesitant to try, however, was yoga. This is mostly because I am, by Bostonian nature, a perpetual cynic. Despite my genuine love and passion for all things holistic self care, I'm guilty of having a baseline of “Daria”-esque sarcasm. Humor is how I cope, I admit, but my point is, (or used to be), that yoga was for privileged and skinny white women looking for fitness and weight-loss trends. I thought it required expensive clothes and a size 0 waist - how ELSE could one fold into “Mermaid Pose” like the blonde beauty on the cover of Yoga Journal?

So, I initially tried yoga for the same reason I tried Reiki and acupuncture and all the other ancient practices: I needed a tool for stress relief and was desperate to explore all angles. I was working a demanding job with chaotic hours while juggling some personal issues, and the emotional stress eventually manifested as physical pain. I was desperate for a way to slough, and I needed my body and mind back - even if just for an hour a week. I tried a “Gentle Restorative” yoga class first, and was beyond content with its predominately grey-haired demographic. I particularly enjoyed the part where we lied on the floor on bolsters, gently twisting and wringing out the workweek. I became a pro at Savasana, "corpse pose," or what I endearingly refer to as the “yoga nap." 

It took just a few classes to realize that gentle, restorative poses could churn up fervent feelings and insights I didn't know were there. The class began to feel like my weekly acid trip, to be frank, going in and in and in until the information I didn't know I needed became uncovered, in beautiful ways through all the senses. And the more I dug and twisted and rinsed out the stress, the more joy and calm began to surface. I noticed myself approaching work with less anxiety and more efficiency, I started to choose better eating habits. I became a better communicator, noticed unhealthy relationships and built boundaries accordingly. I realized I was wearing a metaphorical blanket of old anger, anxiety, and resentment that just didn’t need to be there. This dead weight certainly wasn’t serving me or my loved ones, and the more I practiced and made space, the more this stuff was worked through and released.

The best part was realizing that this information is always in there - self awareness and joy aren't outside of the body, they're just sometimes buried under stress and skin. Our culture doesn’t encourage us to dig below those surfaces. In fact, it encourages quite the opposite. Media and popular culture tell us to band-aid our problems with distraction by booze and sleep aids and social media. Definitely don’t explore it, we're told, definitely don’t get vulnerable - because pain hurts! But, yoga truly helped me realize that the only way out of the pain is straight fucking through it. The pain was telling me information, I just wasn’t listening close enough.

Over time, my yoga practice naturally evolved, and I tried more advanced Vinyasa, heated classes, and countless workshops on yoga therapy, transcendental meditation, Yoga Nidra, you name it. The more physical my practice became, the more emotional skin I shed. More movement allowed for more shedding, which led to more movement, and herein lies the ever-evolving cycle of yoga. The exploration just never, ever ends. Every day brings a chance to dig and play and unbury myself, untie the knots, un-fuck my life and relationships and every experience. I can move, physically and emotionally, without the weight of dead and useless layers. 

I read that "ecdysis" comes from the Greek "ekduo," or, "the act of getting out." I'm grateful to be a young snake who can shed often, aware and vulnerable to parasites, but brave enough to let go of my too-small skin when it’s time to shed. I’m grateful for the chance to re-connect with my innate resources for strength. I’m grateful for knowing that letting myself in is a precursor to letting old stuff go. I’m grateful for the chance to grow up and out and around, by going in and in and in. 



BURSTING with gratitude for teaching in places that foster a wonderfully weird and creative yoga practice...too often yoga is unfairly regarded as a stuffy practice, reserved for dimly lit rooms, expensive candles, and Ravi Shankar music, at most, (not that there's anything wrong with Ravi!!!) However, sometimes you need to do some sweaty yoga to loud music. Sometimes you need some bass-y sound therapy to go deeper, inviting in the chaos of the world and working WITH it, instead of shutting it out and hiding away...sometimes a little bass therapy is just the way to start your Saturday.

Long story short, I want to express how stoked I am to work with Mission Portsmouth , teaching Yoga: BEATS every other Saturday at 8am!!! 

Be sure to check for schedule updates...see you there!

Always Somewhere to Go

You know the drill. Some days, you just don’t want to go to a fucking yoga class. Maybe it’s winter, you’re cold and tired, coming off a long work day, wanting to go home to the shelter of your living room couch and cable tv. But you know you should go to yoga, you know it’s so-called good for you, so you drag yourself halfheartedly to the studio. 

You check in with the teacher at the front desk, forcing yourself to match her bubbly enthusiasm. You kick off your shoes and enter the dimly lit room, and plop your mat somewhere towards the back of the room (it’s not a first-row kind of night). You sit crosslegged on your mat but quickly remember how sick of sitting you are - maybe you’ve done it all day today at your desk behind a computer, or in your car in rush hour traffic. So you shift to lie on your back, trying to ignore the twinge of annoyance/genuine hatred you feel towards the 90 lb Laker Girl next to you, who’s casually floating herself up into a size-0 blur of a handstand. You close your eyes, and still somehow manage to roll them, acknowledging yet not caring how un-yogi you are in this moment.

You close your eyes and breathe, breathe, breathe, looong inhales and looong exhales. You want to be anywhere but next to the Laker Girl. You feel gravity pull your shoulders, hips, and ankles towards the floor, releasing the weight of the day. You notice your face muscles are tensed, and that there’s a slight ache in your lower back. Looong inhales and looong exhales - you visualize yourself "Living Carefree" like Oprah and Deepak Chopra. After a few breaths, you eventually start to go somewhere else, and you welcome the transition. Your breath moves you away from the rush hour and the office and the Laker Girl. Gravity moves you down and down and in, in, in...


When I first started yoga, I focused on nothing but the tension, and how much the tension sucked. In a standing split, all my attention was on the weight and discomfort in my standing leg. In plank, I'd feel only my weak, shaking arms, hating the pose with everything I had, waiting for it to be over. I chose to let the unpleasant sensations guide my practice and dictate my mindset - which limited my thoughts to “Fuck this, fuck this, FUCK THIS…when will this pose be over..."

…We are conditioned to avoid discomfort. We label it as bad and painful and do everything in our power to mask it and ignore it. Yeah, that standing leg will feel super uncomfortable in standing split - especially if you refuse to acknowledge every other part of your body which is supporting the pose as strongly as your standing leg.  

The word "yoga" basically means “union,” or coming together of body and mind. So, in some interpretations, yoga is the union of different physical parts of your body - quite literally the working together of your arms and legs, your abdomen and your upper back, your spine and your heels. Years ago, a teacher asked my yoga class a simple question that shifted my perception forever. While miserable and sweating in plank, She asked us “where can you release, where can you go?” I was flabbergasted. Where can I go? Nowhere, I thought. I can't leave the burning sensation in my arms and shoulders. I can't leave the shakiness or my spinning thoughts. ...I can’t leave my job, my home, my relationships, even if none of them serves me nor I them. I am here, stuck in this uncomfortable space. Where I can go and where I want to go seemed to be, in that time in life and in that plank pose, very different options. 

But i tried it anyway. I tried bringing my attention away from my shaky arms and to my feet which felt strong and ignored. I focused on the possibility of strength in my feet and legs and hips, then actually tapped into that possibility…I used the muscles down there to shoot my heels back and out, which, (like the teacher magically predicted), took tension off my arms. I forgot I had other systems of support, just because I chose to focus on the painful part…WTF... mind, blown. Touche, yoga. 

So I realized it wasn’t about “letting go” of the pain in my arms, but instead about “going in” to another part of my body which is always there to support and guide movement. How fucking empowering that was, to know I’m free to move and travel when a circumstance no longer serves me. Don’t let go of the discomfort, embrace it, look where else can create space for it, and use your resources to transition and grow profoundly stronger.

There is always somewhere to go. What can happen when you realize how big your body is, how expansive your consciousness is…”how heavy are your bones when you allow them to be as heavy as they are?” (Amba Stapleton) How free you can be when you realize you’re allowed to be free…?

And the epiphany, for so many, is just that: that you are free. You are free to travel, to move, to leave and return, to be you, you, you, the purest, heaviest, the shakiest and mobile-est, YOU. So maybe the next time you just don’t want to go to a fucking yoga class, go, and then go somewhere else.